I checked my phone as the plane taxied to the terminal in Austin.
“There are NO FRESH FIGS IN AUSTIN! I’ve tried three stores and calling a fourth one now!” said one text.
“What’s a leek? Help! I’ve never bought a leek and I’m stalking the produce man!” read another.
Oh dear. Big note to self.
Asking busy, working women and mothers to run around town chasing down a shallot or pomegranates on a Friday afternoon is not the best way to springboard into a “get-a-way retreat” that is intended to refresh and recharge the aforementioned women.
Let’s just add a little stress to the end of the week shall we? Because, frankly, it’s just too darn easy wrapping up work, getting yourself packed, and arranging the details involved in leaving kids home with dad for the weekend.
Why, you ask? Why would you ever do this, Kim?
Well, in a moment of temporary insanity, I actually thought it would be a fun thing.
Haven’t you ever picked up some foreign vegetable, spice or herb and wished you could buy it, but you’d have no earthly idea what to do with it once you got home? Well, this retreat finally gave you an excuse! I had asked all participants to bring one interesting ingredient and a spice or herb that we’d use in our weekend recipes together.
FUN, RIGHT???? And, it gets even better.
After your frenzied friday fig and leek search, you arrive at the ranch. You’re asked to dump the food items (that cost you $37 in gas) on the counter and find your bed in the community bunk house that sleeps sixteen. “Oh, I see you look a little pale. Did I fail to mention that most of us are sleeping in the same room? And there’s one bathroom.”
And, unbelievably, it gets better, yet!
I’ll now ask you to join me on an hour-long trail run/hike and two, seventy-five minute full-body workouts regardless of your fitness level. Oh, and in-between those endeavors, we’ll also prepare and cook the following menu from scratch in a non-commercial farm kitchen with people you might have met just minutes ago.
AND IT WAS FUN!
Austin Retreat Menu (FYI)
- Whole wheat flatbreads with Fig, Goat Cheese and Arugula
- Pita Crisps w/roasted homemade red pepper and walnut hummus
- Pomegranate margaritas and fresh guacamole
- Lentil Soup
- Roasted fresh Beet salad with feta and a maple-dijon dressing
- Poppy seed-crusted butternut squash with kale and pomegranates
- Pear, Cranberry and Gingersnap Crumble
- Winter Granola and Citrus Salad with ginger syrup
- Greena Colada (spinach smoothie!)
- Farmer family 3 platter chopped salad (family style)
*I show you the menu because I am still absolutely astonished that we actually did it.
I think every one of us who were there this weekend would do it again in a heartbeat tomorrow.
Or I am really, really delusional.
The vigorous exercise in the sunny outdoors, along with the bounty of beautiful, wholesome food prepared with much laughter, and our own hands was WONDERful.
Add thought-provoking discussions between women eager to learn, share and grow, and it was something very special, indeed.
Obviously this isn’t your typical retreat. There’s no retreating to be done, really. You can’t retreat, you have to be all in. It’s actually a reckoning of sorts that includes rethinking the way you go about exercising, eating, cooking, hospitality, grace, and the influence all this has on your own life, your family, and those around you.
This year, the theme was “Shalom” which is a Hebrew word for peace and completeness. Shalom is a wholeness, an active movement toward peace in your own body, mind and heart and peace with others. The fitness industry is not interested in shalom. Neither are diets. Making intentional and regular efforts to move towards shalom, towards wholeness, is never time wasted.
So now I sit on the plane back to Maryland. I am spent, tired and happy. I’ve been a fortunate eye-witness to a gathering that celebrates much of God’s extravagant provision for us (body, mind, soul, food, friendship, rest, fun) and am filled with gratitude and joy.
I’ve witnessed a communal attentiveness towards shalom within twenty-one women, and it was very good. And very fun.
Peace around your family table tonight.